Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fence shell-ters turtles in traffic

By Renee Nadeau | Sunday, July 27, 2008 |
Photo by Courtesy

Animal advocates are hoping a threatened turtle is in the fast lane to survival thanks to a highway fence erected by volunteers.

Volunteers from Bristol-Myers Squibb in Devens, the state Fish & Wildlife Services and MassHighway erected the fence along a busy highway in central Massachusetts, reducing the turtle mortality rate along the stretch.

That was good news for the Blanding’s turtle, listed as “threatened” by the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. “I think it’s clear that this fencing has been a huge success,” said Lori Erb, a MassWildlife biologist.

In 2007, 43 turtles were killed crossing the highway, including five Blanding’s turtles. Volunteer efforts dropped the death toll to a mere four traffic deaths. No Blanding’s turtle was killed by a car.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among Blanding’s turtles, a species with a low survival rate among young turtles. The turtles travel to several wetlands between mid-March and October and cross dangerous highways in their travels.

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